Three change-over design experiments investigated the origin of hydrogen sulphide in the rumen head-space gas of dairy cows, comparing the effects of single iso-S additions of methionine, cysteine and sodium sulphate, as well as the effects of single meals of fresh ryegrass or white clover. The concentration of hydrogen sulphide in rumen gas declined close to zero within 4 h after withdrawal of the previous feed. Sulphur sources were then given to cows and concentrations of hydrogen sulphide recorded in rumen head-space gas at 30-min intervals. Cysteine addition (8 g) led to a rapid (within 30 min) and a large (490 and 957 p.p.m. respectively in two experiments) increase in hydrogen sulphide concentration. Concentrations were significantly less following methionine addition. Increasing levels of cysteine addition led to significant increases in hydrogen sulphide concentrations ( P < 0.001 for the linear effect), although peak hydrogen sulphide was delayed and concentrations remained higher for longer with the highest (12 g) addition of cysteine ( P < 0.01 for the 'cysteine level' × 'time' interaction). The increase in concentration of hydrogen sulphide from sodium sulphate was smaller (230 p.p.m.) and slower (2 h) than for cysteine. Despite the much higher intake of cystine for white clover in comparison with perennial ryegrass ( P < 0.001), there was almost no increase in hydrogen sulphide concentration in rumen head-space gas from cows fed white clover. It seems likely that this is associated with the use of sulphur to produce thiocyanate to detoxify the hydrogen cyanide from cyanogenic white clover.
|Publication status||Print publication - May 2007|